"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, secure the Blessings of Liberty, and to protect us from all risks and especially from ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
--Preamble, U.S. Constitution
The Preamble to the Constitution really does not contain the words above in red. There is a segment of government and society, however, that is confused on this issue: those boosters of Big Government and the Nanny State.
Wikipedia defines The Nanny State as "a derogatory term that refers to state protectionism, economic interventionism, or regulatory policies, and the perception that these policies are becoming institutionalized as common practice."
It's a sign of how far down the road to Nannyism the U.S. has traveled that the Wiki definition includes the qualifier, "the perception that these policies are becoming institutionalized as common practice." Anyone who is older than 21-years-old can remember a time when their lives weren't bound by a steady stream of laws, regulations, edicts and criminal penalties churned out by the Nanny State's most recognizable stormtroopers: the Smoke and Health Nazis.
Anyone older than 30 can even remember when the words "A man's home is his castle" actually meant something in a court of law. And anyone older than 40 can recall when those five words--sure to a rile any Nannyist--were commonplace: "Ain't none of your business".
The incident that sparked these reminiscences was the appearance, on the door of the neighborhood tavern, of the sign pictured at the beginning of this post. It's a sign that has been ordered to be placed on every bar and tavern in the state of West Virginia.
It's merely the latest salvo in the on-going war against personal habits and behavior among consenting adults. On one typical evening at this same tavern, a count of the establishment's 22 patrons showed 18 of them participating in the cautionary act of smoking. The Smoke Nazis may not realize it, but the "CAUTION" sign had its expected effect: when warning signs proliferate and appear on the most mundane activities, there's a inclination to ignore all of them.
Smoking is not the only front in the war for a Euro-style Nanny State in America, but it's only the hottest one.
We won't delve into the dishonesty of anti-smoking officials and their manipulation of statistics and studies to further their agenda: that would occupy a roomful of researchers--working around the clock--for years.
Or, the fact that looking to the Lung Association and other anti-smoking groups for reliable, non-biased statistics and information is akin to depending on the Democratic National Committee for information and news about conservative causes.
As Reason's Jacob Sullum wrote in 2006:
According to Surgeon General Richard Carmona, secondhand smoke is so dangerous that you'd be better off if you stopped going to smoky bars and started smoking instead. "Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke," claims the press release that accompanied his new report on the subject, "has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and increases risk for heart disease and lung cancer."
Among smokers, these diseases take many years to develop. So if you got your health tips from the surgeon general, you'd start smoking a pack a day as a protective measure.
But you may want to look elsewhere for medical advice. Carmona is so intent on promoting smoking bans—a key element of the government's campaign to reduce cigarette consumption—that he absurdly exaggerates the hazards of secondhand smoke, hoping to generate enough public alarm to banish smokers from every location outside the home.
As the report itself makes clear, there is no evidence that brief, transient exposure to secondhand smoke has any effect on your chance of developing heart disease or lung cancer.
So the report admits that, as far as bar patrons go, second-hand smoke is essentially what it always has been to the non-smoker in a social setting: a nuisance.
However, if second-hand smoke was merely a nuisance, there wouldn't be much need for the government to step in and regulate it. Citizens don't mind staying home if there's a quarantine. If a dire public health hazard threatens, most people don't mind giving up a little personal freedoms for a short while to combat it.
That's explains the never-ending, dishonest campaign against second-hand smoke. One would hope that there would be a great outcry if the government was seen as stripping people of personal freedoms in the name of a nuisance.
Hence, the "CAUTION" sign that's been slapped on bars and taverns all over the state of West Virginia: it softens up the populace for the next Smoke Nazi bid for more control. We have a real problem: the state wouldn't mandate "CAUTION" signs for a nuisance.
The studies that link secondhand smoke to these illnesses involve intense, long-term exposure, typically among people who have lived with smokers for decades.
Even in these studies, it's difficult to demonstrate an effect, precisely because the doses of toxins and carcinogens bystanders passively absorb are much smaller than the doses absorbed by smokers, probably amounting to a fraction of a cigarette a day. Not surprisingly, the epidemiological studies cited by the surgeon general's report find that the increases in lung cancer and heart disease risks associated with long-term exposure to secondhand smoke are small, on the order of 20 to 30 percent.
It only takes two things for a focused campaign to strip people's freedoms to succeed: a over-zealous cabal who stand to profit by the changes (the Lung Association, American Cancer Society and other anti-smoking groups depend on donations of anti-smokers); and, an apathetic, ignorant or uninformed general public.
One day soon, there may be those too young to remember when people routinely went to bars and taverns to unwind with a beer and a smoke. That would be too bad; because the day the Smoke Nazis gain total victory and outlaw smoking completely--does anyone doubt that is where they are taking us?--is the day that they turn their undivided attention to another personal habit, another personal choice, another freedom.
The real hazard is not bar patrons unwinding--some choosing to smoke, other declining the opportunity.
The real threat to public safety and welfare are the dedicated minions of the Nanny State: the Smoke Nazis who KNOW what's better for you than you yourself do.
Some Americans live for the day when the only warning labels mandated by government would be those required for Smoke Nazis: that obnoxious, arrogant clique that spends their lives instructing everyone else on how to live theirs.
* Nanny State
* A Pack of Lies
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